New Year, New Goals: 3 Easy Tips to Help You Achieve Them

The beginning of a new year can be wonderfully motivating; you have a well of ideas and energy and can set exciting new goals. However, did you know that only 20% are still working towards them come February and by the end of the year it's only 8%?

The reason goals are so hard to stick to is that most people don't develop a plan to get themselves from Point A (where they are) to Point B (accomplishing their goal).

3 Tips for Setting Creative Biz Goals You'll Actually Achieve + FREE 15-page Worksheet |

I was once part of the 92% that didn't stick to my goals, but last year was a wake up call. My 2017 goal was to exhibit at Surtex and successfully land enough work to exceed the costs of the trade show by 150%. And I'm proud to say that I had hit my goal by August.

But it wasn't just a fluke that I achieved my goal. It was because I was so driven to make it happen AND I developed a year-long plan to help keep me on track. So today, I'm sharing 3 helpful tips  to help you achieve (and exceed) your goal!

1. Set a Meaningful Goal

This may sound obvious, but in order to be successful, your goal needs to be something that excites you to your very core. Whether it's an income goal you wished you'd reach someday or landing one of your dream clients, pick something that will keep you motivated all year long.

There will be times during the year where you'll struggle, but if you have a goal you're eager to accomplish, you can tap into that excitement and help it carry you through.

Surtex 2017 at the Javits Center |

In my case, Surtex was something I have dreamt about since I first learned what it was in graduate school a decade ago. So when I transitioned to surface design in the summer of 2016, I knew that Surtex was where I wanted to be. Of course my path to exhibiting wasn't easy and there were several moments of self doubt or frustration, but one thing that helped me keep going was the thought of walking into the Javits as an exhibitor for the very first time.

2. Do a Brain Dump

In order to create a solid plan for your goal, you need to contemplate everything you need to do to get there. Take out a piece of paper (you'll probably need several) and write down every task you can think of to help you work toward your goal, no matter how small.

My 2017 Goal Brain Dump: Exhibiting at Surtex |

If that feels too daunting, start by breaking your large goal into smaller goals or categories and work through them one-by-one. By focusing on smaller aspects of your large goal, you're less likely to get overwhelmed.

When I did a brain dump for my 2017 goal of exhibiting at Surtex, I broke down tasks into the different aspects of preparation for the show, like exhibiting logistics, marketing, building my portfolio, etc.

Then I worked on each category one-by-one until I had 3 full pages of tasks I needed to complete.

Don't get too hung up on whether you've thought of absolutely everything. You can always come back to your list and add to it. 

3. Stay Accountable

For your goal action plan to work, you need to continually keep it in mind. One of the best ways to do this is to find someone like your partner, close friend, or family member. Tell them what your goal is and have them check in with you every month to keep you on track. 

You could also get a accountability buddy; it’s especially helpful if they are in the same industry and/or are working towards a similar goal. Or you could announce your goal on Instagram, to your email list, or even in the comments of this post (hint, hint!). Declaring your goal publicly can help make your goal seem more real, plus you’re likely get some people to cheer you on.

Me & my accountability partner, Lizzie Clark at Surtex 2017 |

I was so fortunate enough to have an accountability partner for Surtex. My friend and fellow surface designer, Lizzie Clark, was also exhibiting for the first time in 2017, so it was the perfect solution for us to pair up. We Skyped every other week and emailed in-between; it kept our to-do list in the front of our minds and little by little, we checked off everything together. She's been an incredibly supportive partner-in-crime! 

Want to Achieve Your Goals This Year?

Goal Getter Worksheet by Shannon McNab |

The business life of a designer can be a struggle, but developing a road map to get to your goals can make the journey a lot easier. So if you liked my tips in this post, but are struggling to figure out how to reach your goals or expand your business, my Goal Getter worksheet can help! 

I'll walk you through the entire process step-by-step from setting the RIGHT goal through developing a plan to stay ahead all year long.

FREE Product Brainstorming Worksheets | DSD 2016 SugarHillCo Blog Hop

Happy Digital Scrapbooking Day to all you talented designers out there!

If you're confused as to why the link to Scotty Girl Design took you here, well let me try to explain as quickly as I can: I retired from digital scrapbook design in June and decided to shift my focus to surface design, but also to be able to devote more time to helping digital designers (like yourself) streamline their businesses and maximize their design time. If you'd like to know more about how I came to my decision, you can read about my 3 main reasons for retiring.

Now let's get to the reason you're really here – your FREEBIE! When it came time to design something for this blog hop, I didn't want to do my "usual freebie"; I wanted to create something that could really help you in your business each week.

Below is a set of brainstorming worksheets designed to make your design time much smoother. All you need to do is take an hour before you start designing and write down or sketch all your ideas for your next collection. Click the image below to start the download.

The set above is for letter sized pages, however, I don't want to leave all the planner gals hanging, so I've made an A5 size as well. CLICK HERE to get the A5 size instead!

Next up in the blog hop is Wendy Page Designs, but if you like my brainstorming worksheets and want another FREE design resource to help you plan your products, don't hop outta here just yet! Make sure you scroll down to the bottom of this post.

DSD Specials at SHCO

I'm sure all you designers out there have been working hard for weeks to get ready for this weekend! To celebrate this amazing holiday, the entire SHCo store is 60% off from October 1-3 – including 7 new products of mine (one is a HUGE textures bundle for only $10).

FREE Product Planning Guide for Digital Designers

I wasted so much design time in my first few years as a digital designer and the main reason stemmed from not doing any pre-planning; I just jumped straight into design mode. If I had only taken a few hours each month to build a solid plan for future products, I would have saved myself HOURS of time.

So over the last two years, I dedicated a lot of time to developing my own product planning system so I could stop wasting time and I want to share my system with you.

Product Planning Guide: A Resource for Digital Design Creatives | Copyright ©2018 Shannon McNab |

If you ever feel like you don't have enough hours in the day for design or are constantly scrambling to put together new products each week, this guide can help.

In the 12-page guide, I share with you my three part system that I personally used over the last two years. I lead you through each part step-by-step so by the end you can implement your own product planning strategy.

How Product Pre-Planning Can Save You Lots of Design Time

When I first started designing digital scrapbook products back in 2010, I had no idea what I was doing. I’d be full of inspiration one week, only to be scrambling to come up with ideas the following week. Sound familiar?

How Product Pre-Planning Can Save You Lots of Design Time |

I wasted so much design time in my first few years as a digital designer and the main reason stemmed from not doing any pre-planning – I just jumped straight into design mode. If I had only taken a few hours each week (or month) to build a solid plan for future products, I would have saved myself HOURS of time.

Here are three time saving benefits to developing a product pre-planning system:

1. You Have Many Ideas to Choose From

Creating new designs is easier when you already have several good ideas to choose from instead of trying to come up with something on the fly. When I realized this, I decided to devote an entire day to building a list of possible theme ideas for future products.

Now you definitely don't have to take a full day to build an ideas list, but even 1-2 hours of focused brainstorming can easily give you at least a dozen good ideas for products down the line.

This is one step in the product planning process that is often ignored since we have so little design time to begin with, but to me it should always be the FIRST step in building a solid pre-planning system.

2. Gives You a Roadmap to Follow

Many designers (myself included) will often think of an idea and just start designing. This spontaneous method of creation can be a healthy part of the design process when you're wanting to experiment or stretch your design skills.

However, when it comes to developing a fully realized product (especially if it's a multi-product collection), I think going in with a bit of a plan is a much better place to start. By spending just an hour or so brainstorming ideas, you'll be giving yourself a plan of attack and visual cues that will help you during the design process.

And by creating your own mini product plan, it means that if you get stuck at any time while you're designing, you can just revisit your plan and know what step needs to come next. Without a plan, you'd probably end up wasting more time looking for inspiration to give you new ideas.

3. Makes You Feel Productive

It's such a great feeling to look back on your day or week and feel like you got a lot accomplished. That's because everyone likes to feel productive! And I don't know about you, but feeling productive is one of the main things that keeps me motivated to work on "the next thing" on my to-do list.

That's why I love creating a product list anytime I make a new collection (you could also do a list of tasks needed to complete a single product) because I can immediately see how far along in the design process I am. And nothing beats the feeling of getting to physically check something off a list – it can really empower you to keep going!

So how do you create an easy to implement product planning system??

Well, I'd like to share with you the three part system I developed and personally used for the past two years! In my new FREE Product Planning Guide, I lead you through each part step-by-step to help you implement your own product planning strategy and gain back some valuable design time.

Here's just a taste of what you'll learn:

  • Why building a design idea library is so important for long term success
  • How to discern good product ideas from bad ones
  • Creative and unusual places to hunt for inspiration
  • Tips for keeping your design files more organized
  • How to build a product inventory spreadsheet from scratch

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